48 Hours In Louisville, Kentucky

Me: “Louis-Ville.  Looey-Ville.  Love-Ville…am I getting it right yet?”

Tour Guide: “Well, I like to tell people to pretend their mouth is full of marbles.  More like Lou-Uh-Vull.”

Mouth full of marbles.  I like that.  So began my fabulous 48 hours in Louisville, Kentucky.  I was delighted when I found out I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in what the locals call “Possibility City”.  A southern girl at heart, I get a jolt every time I leave The Big Apple and head south of the Mason Dixon Line where the table wine is sweet tea and Mason Jars are always filled with daisies.



A weekend hardly felt like enough time to appreciate all this lovely city has to offer, but it sure was a much appreciated getaway where the pace of life is a little slower and the folks are a little lot friendlier.  Grab your Mint Julep, Derby hat, and sack of marbles, and enjoy the ride as I show you how to get the most out of your 48 hours in Louisville Lou-Uh-Vull.

Day #1

Off To The Races 11am

While most of your exploration of Louisville can be down on foot, there are 3 stops you’ll want to either cab it or rent a car for, the first being Churchill Downs.  The site of the famed Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs offers plenty of excitement all throughout the year.  Pop into the Kentucky Derby Museum and take a look at the classic hats and couture worn (and also learn all you could ever want to learn about the Derby itself!)  The museum offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the track which is a must-do…hearing the tour guide’s enthusiasm and passion for the Derby is enough to give you chills in the 100 degree Kentucky heat.


Get Your Party Eat On 1:30pm 

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe is my childhood dream restaurant.  Who am I kidding, it’s my adult dream restaurant!  Filled with mis-matched chairs and tables, balloons floating overhead, and a table-top strewn with confetti, it’s the most festive environment I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at.  The staff is wonderful, and the food.  Oh, the food.  I started with a Derby Pie Milkshake, washed down with Greek Scramble, followed by French toast, and coming full circle by ending with a slice of Derby Pie.  There is no question why the restaurant’s middle name is Paradise.


Paying Homage To The Colonel 3:30pm

Any true KFC fans will most definitely not want to miss a chance to swing by Cave Hill Cemetery (with a bucket of chicken, naturally) to pay homage to Colonel Harland Sanders.  The cemetery itself is more like a park beckoning for a picnic…you’ll enjoy the lush green and Victorian-era graves, and lake filled with ducks, swans, and the occasional peacock.


Rest and Relaxation 5pm

Dubbed by Conde Nast Traveler Readers as the #1 hotel in the south, I absolutely loved 21C Museum Hotel.  Loved as in I would have been perfectly content never leaving the hotel grounds for the entire 48 hours…but that wouldn’t make me a very good travel writer at all, now would it?  The hotel is quirky, fun, and seems to have surprises at every turn.  (Read my full review here.)  After hopping in the tub with your yellow ducky, be sure to head down to the bar for a mandatory bourbon, and a phenomenal dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Proof On Main.  (Note, the rest of the trip can be done on foot, so no more need to call a cab.)



Day #2

A Proper Southern Breakfast 10am

I had heard through the grapevine that Hillbilly Tea is a favorite spot among the locals, so you can bet I was up, dressed, and waiting at the door before the place even opened.  (The New Yorker in me still hates waiting in lines, what can I say?)  We were the first to be seated, but the place did fill up rather quickly.  After tasting their biscuits and local honey, it’s easy to see why.  The food is as good as the restaurant is cute.



River Cruise 12pm

The Belle of Louisville lunch cruise is a three hour tour you most definitely don’t want to miss (cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song!)  The Ohio River is flanked on one side by Kentucky and the other Indiana, and plenty of mac-n-cheese and dancing right in the middle!  For a comprehensive look at the Belle, check out my full review.


Louisville Slugger Museum 3pm

If you’re a baseball fan, The Louisville Slugger Museum is an obvious stop along the tour.  But if you’re more like me (Jeter who??), it’s still a place of interest because of the factory tour.  That’s right, you can get a walking tour of the inner-workings of the baseball bat factory which is actually really cool.  Along with seeing bats cut and sanded and painted and glossed, you also get 30 minutes with a very entertaining tour guide.  Make sure to pose outside for a photo with the World’s Biggest Baseball Bat.


Neighborhood Stroll 5pm

Spend the evening in NuLu (New Louisville…a nickname all us New Yorkers can relate to), perusing the funky antique stores, fantastic street art, sparkling new art galleries, and finding yourself at Garage Bar.  A gas station turned bar, you won’t be able to miss the two crashed cars poised out front.  Nor will you miss the adorable twinkle lights strung above the ping pong tables.  Grab your Kentucky Bourbon or Rye Whisky and mingle with the locals.


Locally Grown Supper 8pm

Don’t leave Louisville without dining on the regionally inspired, seasonal cuisine from Harvest.  The rustic restaurant is furnished with materials reclaimed from buildings around the city, and 80% of the food is locally sourced from farmers and growers within a 100 mile radius of Louisville.  I’d recommend the Beer Cheese and Pretzel Bun to start, followed by the Herb Ricotta Gnocchi.


If You Go

Sleep in style and ultimate comfort at the 21C Museum Hotel.  With over 9,000 square feet of exhibition space and chocolate delivered to your pillow every night with turn-down service, there’s simply nothing not to love.  No matter how Louisville rolls off your tongue, marbles or no marbles, we promise you’ll love it here, too.




By: Jessica Tiare Bowen


A very special thank you to the wonderful folks at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau!




  • I just have no concept of the USA outside of NYC and New Jersey! I will have to visit again!

  • megan says:

    glad to hear you had such a good time in our lovely city!! louisville is a great place to call home and i hope you make it back soon!

  • Cindy Jacks says:

    Looks like you had a grand time! The food, the race, the sightseeing. Now I want to go to Louisville and I never voluntarily go to Kentucky, lol.

  • I absolutely LOVE Louisville! (and I say Lou-uh-vull) 😉 Grew up about an hour down the road! Looks like you were able to do quite a bit while you were there. Thanks for spreading the word about this awesome place.

  • I’m falling in love with Louisville through your blog posts and amazing reviews, Jess! Oh, my. I will definitely add this to the dream-team travel to-do. The world’s largest baseball bat is reason enough to take my 11 y/o sports fan.

    I want your job! How exciting and educational. And the food–I would need to jog around the city 3x after that beer pretzel and herb ricotta gnocci–not the thing to read about when you’re about to go to bed on an empty stomach.

    Your personality and passion really shines through–l really enjoy your festive pics :). Maybe Conde Naste will hire you one of these days…:).

    • Used York City says:

      Aww, thank you so much for your kind words, Linda! Your 11 year old would LOVE the Louisville Slugger Museum! It’s very interactive and chock-full of everything you could ever want to know about America’s favorite pastime!:-)

  • Dwight says:

    I love louisvilleeeee! Never knew about the 21c hotel. Hidden gem?

    • Used York City says:

      Great city, right?! Not sure if it would be considered “hidden”, but it’s definitely a gem! When I was there it was full of locals just popping in to look at the newest art exhibits and to have a glass of wine…great scene!:-)

  • Scarlett says:

    I’d LOVE to go to Kentucky – the kentucky derby is SO famous, even over here… the museum must have been fab! Loving the pics… I think I can say goodbye to my diet after seeing that milkshake pic! FAB blog as always xx

    • Used York City says:

      The milkshake was, like, the BEST I’ve ever had! A serious party for your mouth, you would LOVE it!

  • Louisville is a fantastic city!! I would even say that if I didn’t live here! We have more great restaurants than you can shake a stick at and even better craft beer! Next time you come you have to go to Against the Grain Brewery located at our minor league ball field Louisville Slugger Field. They have not only vegetarian fare but also pretty tasty vegan wings and some of the best beer you’ve ever had! http://www.atgbrewery.com

    The Urban Bourbon Trail is another big draw with 19 (and counting) bars/restaurants! I believe we also have a beer trail, although I’ve never done it officially. The music scene here is not to be missed either. If you’ve never been properly introduced to Bluegrass music you have to go to The Monkey Wrench on Wednesday night to see Relic. Their website says, “The Relic “sound” is equally progressive as it is rooted in tradition” but they are just a talented bunch of young musicians who have been playing this gig every Wednesday for almost 4 years. And there’s no cover charge!

    Across the street from The Monkey Wrench (and just down the street from Lynn’s Paradise Cafe) is the Fish House. They serve beignets, andouille sausage and chicory coffee on the weekends. Great food and much less expensive than Lynn’s. I could go on and on…Sorry. Just come visit and you’ll see! Quick tip: if you want to come for Derby, start planning now!!

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks SO much for stopping by and for all the fabulous suggestions! Clearly, I need to get back down to Louisville ASAP and start experiencing everything that I missed! I’ll definitely come by and visit you guys on my next visit…derby or no derby!:-)

  • Steve says:

    Great post & fun pictures! The food looks delicious! I’ve never been to Louisville, but now I’m considering it!

  • Cari Lorine says:

    What a cute post! I’ve wanted to go visit Louisville for years now (mostly for Churchill Downs). I didn’t even realize there was more to see.

  • Say hello to my sister who lives in Louisville.

    You might enjoy this clip of the Colonel on What’s My Line? when few recognized him.

  • Louisville looks like so much fun! I spent two weeks in Lexington for work a couple years ago – not nearly as much fun! I always forget how much there is to explore right here at home!

    • Used York City says:

      I’ve never been to Lexington, but I’d imagine it’s beautiful! Horse country, right?

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